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French intelligence has concluded that forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad carried out a sarin nerve gas attack on April 4 in northern Syria and that Assad or members of his inner circle ordered the strike, a declassified report showed.

The chemical weapons attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun killed scores of people, according to a war monitor, Syrian opposition groups and Western countries. It prompted the United States to launch a cruise missile strike on a Syrian air base, its first deliberate assault on the Assad government in the six-year-old conflict. 

Assad has said in two media interviews since April 4 that the evidence of a poison gas attack was false and denied his government had ever used chemical weapons.

The six-page French document, seen by Reuters, and drawn up by France's military and foreign intelligence services - said it reached its conclusion based on samples they had obtained from the impact strike on the ground and a blood sample from a victim.

"We know, from a certain source, that the process of fabrication of the samples taken is typical of the method developed in Syrian laboratories," Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told reporters after presenting the findings to the cabinet. reuters.com
The head of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan said on Monday he was "not refuting" reports that Russia was providing support, including weapons, to the Taliban.

For some time, American officials have complained of what Nicholson once called "malign influence" by Russia in Afghanistan, but Monday's comments are among the strongest suggestions yet that Moscow is providing arms to the Taliban.

Asked about reports that Russia was providing a range of help, including weapons, to the Taliban, who control large areas of Afghanistan, Nicholson replied: "Oh no, I am not refuting that."

Moscow has been critical of the United States over its handling of the war in Afghanistan, where the Soviet Union fought a bloody and disastrous war of its own in the 1980s. Russia has previously denied providing any material or financial aid to the insurgent group, but has said it maintains ties with Taliban officials in order to push for peace negotiations.

A senior U.S. military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters that intelligence showed that Russia was providing monetary and weapons support to the Taliban, specifically weapons such as machine guns. reuters.com
A terrorist accused of murdering a British student in Jerusalem will be paid a salary of more than £800 a month by the Palestinian government – which receives more than £25 million a year from the UK in foreign aid.

Jamil Tamimi, who has a history of mental health issues, killed theology student Hannah Bladon in a frenzied knife attack on Good Friday after the 21-year-old gave up her seat on a tram to a woman with a baby.

The 57-year-old Palestinian told police that he attacked Hannah, a Birmingham University exchange student attached to Jerusalem's Hebrew University, in the hope that a soldier in the carriage would kill him.

Instead Tamimi was arrested and is almost certain to be lauded as a resistance 'hero' by the Palestinian Authority (PA), like hundreds of others before him. An Israeli court has already ruled, following a psychiatric evaluation, that he is fit to stand trial and should be treated as a terrorist by the justice system.

It means Tamimi or his family qualify for a 'salary' from the PA, according to Itamar Marcus, the founder and director of the Israeli monitoring group Palestinian Media Watch. dailymail.co.uk
Three Islamic State militants trying to rid Iraqi farmland of a wild boars infestation were killed, according to an Iraqi news site. ISIS claimed the land in 2014 and regular execute civilians across the region (stock)

'Islamic State militants took revenge at the pigs that attacked the farmland,' though reports of how the fighters died remain unclear.

Thousands of civilians in the Kirkuk region fled to refugee camps following the Islamic State emergence in 2014.

ISIS continue to hold the land despite calls for the government to engage and force them back.  

However, the Iraqi government is currently locked in a six-month-old campaign to retake Mosul, ISIS's biggest stronghold in Iraq. 

It is expected that the government will launch further offensives against IS havens across Iraq once the campaign in Mosul is won. 

Islamic State militants have regularly executed civilians in Kirkuk over accusations of collaboration with security forces or for attempting to flee to refugee camps. dailymail.co.uk
A human rights watchdog group has lashed out at the United Nations for appointment of Saudi Arabia as a member of a committee on gender equality, despite Riyadh’s massive discrimination against women.

“Saudi discrimination against women is gross and systematic in law and in practice,” said the executive director of the human rights group UN Watch, Hillel Neuer, in a Sunday statement.

“Why did the UN choose the world’s leading promoter of gender inequality to sit on its gender equality commission,” he said in a statement. “Electing Saudi Arabia to protect women’s rights is like making an arsonist into the town fire chief,” he later tweeted.

On Wednesday, the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) elected 13 members, including Saudi Arabia, to four-year terms on the Commission on the Status of Women, which is exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.

Out of 144 on the Global Gender Gap Index, Saudi Arabia was ranked 141 in 2016. parstoday.com
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has warned that he could be “50 times” more brutal than Isis militants who stage beheadings and said he could even “eat” the extremists if they're captured alive by troops.

Duterte has repeatedly threatened drug suspects with death, but he raised his shock rhetoric to a new level as president when he said in a speech during the opening of a national sports tournament what he could do to terrorists who have staged beheadings and other gruesome attacks.

Duterte ordered troops to kill fleeing Muslim militants behind a foiled attack in the central resort province of Bohol and not bring them to him alive, calling the extremists “animals.”

“If you want me to be an animal, I'm also used to that. We're just the same,” Duterte said. “I can dish out, go down what you can 50 times over.”

The foul-mouthed president said that if a terrorist was presented to him when he's in a foul mood, “give me salt and vinegar and I'll eat his liver.” belfasttelegraph.co.uk